Those are five little words that make every professional groomer I know cringe! It is equivalent to sharp nails going across a chalkboard. When we hear those words on the other end of the phone it almost makes our heart stop. We know that "grooming" a pet is more than just a bath. Sadly, most times it is had to get that across to many pet owners. Some people want a dog because it's cute and fluffy and their intention is to love and baby it until the end of its days. What heart could resist those adorable faces? Those eyes that make you melt, and my goodness if they lift that paw and touch you.....you are a gonner for sure! What most new pet owners don't take into account is that owning a dog is like having a new child. They are a blank slate when you get them. They have no idea what you expect of them so they just do what comes natural to them. They poop, pee, play,eat,sleep and chew on things. They depend on you to know and/or find out what is the best thing for their care, including grooming. Research the type of pet you want and what is best for your household before you decide to get a pet. Knowing your time constraints are so important, as many times you may be the only person caring for the "family pet". I can only urge that if you are looking for a dog or cat that you would try the many over-run shelters and rescues first, but let's face it many people will just go out and buy a dog or cat because it's easier.
Knowledge is power! I run into so many people who thought that they could "save a few bucks" and groom the dog themselves. Only ending up creating a bigger more expensive problem. Grooming and bathing a pet are two very different things. Many pet parents will bathe a double, drop and curly coated do with no idea how to care for the coat before during and after the bath. Nails are neglected and grow out of proportion causing deformation of the feet and unnecessary pressure on joints. Hair growing between the paw pads turn into matts, and become as hard as rocks making it uncomfortable for your pet to walk. Ear hair is overlooked which can grow out of control and cause painful ear infections. Bathing and not drying the coat properly can form matts around the pet's genitals trapping bacteria causing urinary tract infections, or worst matted hair around the rectum can prevent the pet from passing feces. Professional groomers are trained to remove these things before they become an issue. In addition they look for things like skin problems, and understanding dog/cat anatomy helps your groomer to recognize an abnormality that may require a look from your vet. Studying skin care, and health issues, can help to protect your family from something that could spread from animal to people called zoonatic diseases. Such studies can alert your professional groomer if your pet's skin is in distress. I can not tell you how many times pet parents have brought the shaking fire red skin pet to me stating " he needs a flea bath, because he won't stop scratching" only discover that the shampoo they are using at home is burning the poor dog's skin. A shampoo that is either too strong for their skin or not properly dilute can damage both the coat and skin. In most cases it ends up being a skin reaction or "hot spot" from shampoo not being rinse properly from the coat. Teaching your pet how to accept things like clippers and shears near their face can be a smooth transition with a trained professional groomer. Waiting until your pet is a year or older to have them introduced to those things can be traumatic for the pet because they don't understand what is happening. It is also traumatic and time consuming for your groomer because he/she has to spend an enormous amount of time working your terrified older pet thru this process. During this time, most pets turn into a screaming,flipping, snapping, peeing, pooping, frightened creature, instead of your precious little poopsy that you know and love. Neglecting to keep them on a regular 4-5week grooming schedule starts the tasmanian dance all over again, in which case many groomer will begin to turn you away or refer you to vet to have the pet sedated for his own safety. Grooming either at a shop or by your mobile groomer should be a pleasant experience for your pet. If they only see the groomer a few times per year after the coat has gotten out of control it makes your pet associate grooming with pain. No offense to my dentist friends, but who looks forward to a root canal? Not me!
Combing and brushing your pet at home with the proper equipment between grooms makes it easier for everyone! You will have special bonding time with your pet. During the process you can catch any matts/tangles before they get started. You will also avoid extra charges for de-matting, behavior problems and/or sedation. Your pet's grooming experience is faster and more enjoyable! Here are a few hints to find out if your "at home grooming" has you and your pet heading for trouble.
1) Can you part the coat on any part of your pet's body and see his skin?
2) Does the coat feel thick like padding to your touch?
3) Does the coat have cords or knots under the neck or rump?
4) Do you feel rock like lumps behind your pet's ears?
5) Do you see your pet's coat separate in thick sections?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above listed questions....it's time to STOP! Take your pet to a professional groomer and start the coat all over again. At any given time you should be able to comb your pet's hair with a metal medium/coarse comb from the crown of his head to his rump without removing the comb. Just like you comb your own hair from root to tip. A double coated dog's coat should have a free flowing bounce to it. You may run into some tight spots around the rump or neck but you should still be able to get the comb thru it. Professional grooming is a necessary part of your pet's health and well being, just like getting the proper vaccinations. It is not something that should be taken lightly. It should be done a trained professional in the field of grooming. It really does make a difference, to your pet's over all look and more importantly their safety. What you don't know can do a lot of damage to your pet, so please leave it to the trained grooming professionals.